Peter Bogdanovich, the legendary director, has broken ranks with his Hollywood brethren. He may never eat lunch in that godless town again.
In a disarmingly-honest first-person jeremiad appearing in the August 3 issue of the Hollywood Reporter, the auteur known for such films as “The Last Picture Show,” “Paper Moon” and “Mask” indicts the motion picture industry for playing a role in last week’s massacre in Colorado.
“People go to a movie to have a good time,” said Bogdanovich, “and they get killed.”
“At first,” he noted, some of those watching the massacre unfold inside the theater, “thought it was a part of the movie. That’s very telling.”
The director lamented, “Violence on the screen has increased ten-fold. It’s almost pornographic… It’s all out of control. I can see where it could drive someone crazy.”
Bogdanovich wasn’t just ranting in the wake of tragedy. He was speaking truth.
Indeed, Ameirca’s youth are inured to violence through saturation exposure to violence-laden movies, like “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as television shows and video games.
Before the average American child even finishes elementary school, he or she will view 100,000 acts of violence just on TV, including some 8,000 murders. And when they become old enough to go to the movies without their parental units, they’ll see even more ersatz violence.
Of course, most of Bogdanovich’s Hollywood brethren (and sistren) will strenuously object to suggestions that the violence and mayhem they are putting on the screen has any effect whatsoever on mass murderers like 24-year-old James Holmes.
But there is prima facie evidence of the influence Hollywood has on the hoi polloi.
All the way back in 1934, Columbia Pictures released “It Happened One Night,” a romantic comedy starring Clarke Gable and Claudia Colbert. In one memorable scene, Gable took of his shirt and revealed his bare chest.
In so doing, the actor inspired millions of American men to abandon their undershirts, temporarily devastating the nation’s T-shirt manufacturers.
More recently, there was the 1982 science fiction movie, “E.T.,” starring young Henry Thomas and a very young Drew Barrymore. In one noteworthy scene, the character played by Thomas lures an extraterrestrial out of hiding by dropping Reese’s pieces on the ground.
For months, Reese’s pieces were the most popular candy in America.
Warner Bros., the movie studio that released “Dark Knight Rises,” did not cause the bloodshed in Colorado last week. I still maintain that young man Holmes was operating under demonic influence.
But Warner’s certainly contributed.
In the previous installment of its Batman franchise, the most compelling character was not Batman, the good guy, but the Joker, who delighted in murder and mayhem.
That clearly was an inspiration to Holmes, who went so far before his real world killing spree as to dye his hair red in worshipful tribute to Warner’s evil-doing character.